Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Deposition - Cover-up Exposed

Fr. Haley was suspended in October 2001 after bringing Bishop Loverde proof of the homosexuality of a number of priests in the Arlington Diocese, their porn collections, etc. From that point on it was cover-up and kill the messenger. At the same time that the bishops were talking in Dallas about transparency over the sex abuse scandals the modus operandi in Arlington was cover up and secrecy.

Fr. Haley has been accused of going around randomly exposing the situation. He did not. He spoke out only once in a legal deposition for which he was subpoened (twice) and answered questions under oath. That occurred during the civil case over Fr. Jim Verrecchia's adultery with Nancy Lambert at All Saints Parish in Manassas, VA where Verrecchia was pastor. Jim Lambert filed suit against the diocese on June 5, 2002. Up to that time Fr. Haley had said nothing about the volatile information he had. The deposition was taken on July 24, 2002. From October to July Fr. Haley said nothing. Secrecy had prevailed and that's what the diocese wanted to continue.

When the deposition was taken the diocese had the right to have a lawyer present, but they chose not to. That gave Bishop Loverde the ability to claim later that Fr. Haley "volunteered" to testify and that there was no subpoena. His denials, however, were couched in vague language. The fact is that Fr. Haley actually received two subpoenas to which he responded and testified under oath.

Interested readers can see the entire deposition at the Roman Catholic Faithful website. The diocese attempted to have the deposition sealed by the court. (So much for truth and transparency.) Their request was refused.

Let me add a personal note here. In 1995 I was arrested with seven others at Christ the Redeemer parish in Sterling, VA for attending a meeting of the dissent group Call to Action and asking by whose authority they were meeting in the church. We were arrested at the direction of CTA members who had no connection to the parish. We were charged with a criminal misdemeanor that carried a penalty of up to a year in jail and $1500 fine. When our spiritual father, Bishop Keating, would not protect us from the wolves, we had no choice but to subpoena him as the owner of the property since the owner or his designated representative must be the one to call for the arrest. At one point the diocesan lawyer, Tom Fadoul, requested a postponement to which we agreed provided the diocese did not try to quash the subpoena. Then they tried to quash the subpoena. This was before Loverde's day, but the diocesan lawyer in both cases was the same, Tom Fadoul. The dishonesty from the chancery was evidenced in both cases. One is tempted to ask whether bishops put more trust in diocesan lawyers than in truth and justice.


  1. A civil subpoena is not compulsory. Haley's lawyer scheduled the deposition at a time when they knew diocesan attorneys were out of town on another case. In that way the testimony was directed without objections as to material testimony. Anyone can go down to the courthouse and verify this. The deposition seems a ruse used by Haley to lambast the diocese and other priests. His anger knows no bounds.

  2. Let's see if I've got this straight. Fr. Haley was deposed in the case of a parishioner, Jim Lambert, who had tried for months to get the diocese to do something about the pastor who was having an adulterous affair with his wife. Fr. Haley had to choose between covering up for the pastor and the diocese (which did nothing) or supporting a member of his flock. So you're saying the correct action was to play the secrecy game, refuse to cooperate, and stonewall. Sounds familiar - like the bishops who lied and covered up the sex abuse scandals. Is that part of the new "openness and transparency" policy?

    As to Fr. Haley's "anger", maybe that's the normal,manly response to these evils. Wish we could see more of it in our bishops. Oh, I forgot, we do -- and it's generally aimed at the priests who dare to do anything that exposes the homosexual problem in the Church.

  3. I'm not sure of the basis for the comment about the Diocesan lawyers being "out of town" during the subpoenaed deposition of Fr. Haley, but that doesn't appear to be a valid excuse for their non-attendance at the deposition. Recall that the Lambert plaintiff was repesented by a national lawfirm, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. The action was directly against the Bishop and the Diocese. The allegations in the matter were not frivolous given the litigation climate at that time across all trial courts in other states and the federal system. Similar claims against the Diocese in Portland, OR and Spokane, Washington ultimately led to bankruptcy of all Diocesan finances. It seemed to be an important matter.
    My reading of the litigation record, although by documents posted by Roman Catholic Faithful, led me to conclude that the Arlington Diocese attorneys made a conscious decision to absent themselves from what they were well aware was a properly established discovery deposition by subpoena. The litigation basis for the Arlington Diocesan attorneys' actions was, I believe, to avoid making a commitment to the Court on the matter of whether Fr. Haley, as an associate pastor of the parish at issue, was in fact an agent of the Bishop and the Arlington Diocese. Otherwise, the attorneys for the Arlington Diocese did have sufficient notice of the subpoena of Fr. Haley and the date of the deposition to seek an order by the Arlington Circuit Court blocking the deposition. However, that would have required the Arlington Diocesan attorneys to take a position with the Court on the agency question. The attorneys for Lambert had the right to take Fr. Haley's deposition in any event, without regard to the agency question, because Fr. Haley was, unfortunately, a material witness to many of the allegations in the complaint.
    Once that deposition was completed, the Diocese of Arlington attorneys filed a motion with the Circuit Court seeking to have the deposition sealed. The Circuit Court then ruled that because no motion to quash or limit the subpoena was filed by the Diocese of Arlington prior to the taking of the deposition, there were no grounds raised that would authorize the Court to seal the deposition at that point. As I recall the Court's decision, it was grounded on the fact that Fr. Haley was a material witness to the allegations of the complaint and the Diocesan lawyers had prior notice of the subpoenaed deposition and did not participate. I don't recall that the Circuit Court ruled on a claim of the Bishop's attorneys "being out of town".
    I also would not agree with the claim by the earlier poster that "a civil subpoena is not compulsory". Such a civil discovery subpoena is ultimately enforced through the contempt powers of the Circuit Court. The earlier poster also seems to call the lawyers from Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP "Fr. Haley's attorneys", but that is incorrect. As it was said above, "Anyone can go down to the courthouse and verify this."
    The real root of the dispute with Fr. Haley as to the testimony in the Lambert case, in my opinion, was the indecision on the part of the Arlington Diocese counsel in failing to either seek a Court order to block the deposition at the time they received written Notice that Fr. Haley was to be served with the subpoena, or failing to attend and defend the position of the Diocese on the record during the deposition.
    I have never seen the Diocesan justification on these matters, and I would hope that whatever discipline was given to Fr. Haley by the Tribunal at St. Charles in Philadelphia was not based on his unfortunate position of being an involuntary material witness to the allegations of the Lambert civil complaint.

  4. While I have sympathized with the Haley case as one poster noted the deposition included an ecclesial rant full of unsupported accusaton that had nothing to do with the Lambert situation.
    I also can't fathom why a priest as intelligent as Fr. Haley would submit himself to St. Luke's Institute. Something doesn't smell right And why is he so silent on items which affect his reputation?

  5. I'm not sure what you are talking about with regard to Fr. Haley being silent on "items which affect his reputation." Please clarify.

    As for his silence - the bishop put him under pontifical secrecy and the only time he has spoken publicly about anything relating to the homosexual problem was the deposition. He did communicate several times with Matt Abbott about his own personal agony which is certainly understandable, but he has obeyed the bishop now for going on eight years.

    As for St. Luke's, I know several orthodox priests who went there out of obedience to their bishops when threatened with suspension and never serving actively again. What is a priest supposed to do, pray tell? There are a number of cases that demonstrate the bishops have total control (Fr. Haley is not the only abused priest.) and Canon Law is almost useless to defend the innocent - unless you have endless amounts of both time and money. You pay for a lawyer and the bishop uses the collection basket to fund his case. Balanced, eh?

    You're right about something not smelling right, however, and I just did an article on it in the Winter issue of the Les Femmes newsletter which will be posted at in a few weeks. The title is The Devil's Triple Play: Clericalism, Secrecy, and Dissent. They stink to high heavens and all three have played a significant role in the persecution of Fr. Haley.

    I wonder if you had been forced to be silent over a massive injustice and were subpoened after almost a year of basically living in solitary confinement, abandoned by your brothers, persecuted by your spiritual father, etc., - Is it possible you would engage in a "rant" when you had the chance to speak and tell the "whole truth" in a legal deposition?

  6. First, a caution: I am not a Virginia lawyer.

    However, it seems fatuous to say that a civil subpoena is without legal effect; otherwise, what purpose would it have?? To say that a "civil deposition is not legally compulsory" makes no particular sense since the deposition is the process of deposing and the deposition is a pre-trial procedure to unearth evidence which may be used or attacked in court. It is the subpoena which seeks to compel attendance at a deposition or at a trial. The comment must be from a non-lawyer.

    An attorney in most states has the power to issue a subpoena in his capacity as an "officer of the court." This is a sticky area but there seems little doubt that to ignore a subpoena would subject its recipient to a contempt of court charge. And, of course, to the inferences that might be drawn from a failure to cooperate.

    I tried to discuss this question a few years ago with a Virginia attorney and he was unable to give me a clearcut answer as to penalties because what almost always seems to happen in a civil proceeding (and this has been my own experience as well) is that the attorneys work out a date that is mutually acceptable (but there is no doubt that the subpoena cannot be ignored).

    Frankly, the comment that the Lambert lawyer (Gregory Murphy) scheduled the deposition for a time when the "diocesan attorneys were out of town" is a new one but silly in view of the fact that the bishop in the Lambert case was represented by a very large law firm (Hunton & Williams) who, if this were really the case, could have dispatched any young associate to cover a deposition. Rather it might be guessed that the client (chancery wizards) told the attorneys not to attend the deposition -- either to stall off the testimony defensively or in a misguided effort save legal fees (these are pricey lawyers).

    It certainly would not seem that what transpired in terms of the scheduling is verifiable at the courthouse. It also would not seem that the deposition could be a "ruse"; this is simply the wrong word.

    I suggest that you discuss this with Gregory Murphy, the Lambert attorney who conducted the deposition.

    A Practicing Lawyer

  7. A civil subpoena is part of the discovery process moving parties to truthful witness in court. I have never heard of contempt charges being brought for silence or refusal to testify in a civil matter. Much of the content of the Haley depostion would be excluded by the Rules of Evidence.

  8. Mrs. Krietzer-

    While I have no doubt Fr. Haley was the object of some injustice and am outraged by it, I am equally outraged at the nature and scope of the hearsay that he used as a cudgel to settle his frustrations about homosexuals in the prieshood. He let the devil take him out of the fight. His lack of justice in these matters also undercut his own position and that is a cause for lament.

  9. Would things be any different without the deposition? Hard to say. Fr. Haley was already suspended for almost a year with no prospect in sight for reinstatement. Frankly, I don't think anything would change except the secrecy would be much deeper and Fr. Hamilton and Fr. Erbacher would still be pastors with the bishop protecting them.

    The bishop's success in the Haley case may also have emboldened him to go after another priest he considered troublesome. In 2005 Fr. Joe Clark was suspended over a heated discussion with a permanent deacon for mishandling the Precious Blood at Mass. He was summarily dismissed with no discussion at all after being summoned to the bishop's house where he thought they would talk about what happened. Instead, the bishop asked him a few questions and the diocesan lawyer handed him his walking papers dated the day before: no discussion, no hearing - suspension. Fr. Clark was only recently reinstated after becoming so ill he could not take the assignment the bishop originally offered.

    Whether some of the discussion in the deposition was imprudent or not, how many priests have been cast into the outer darkness for not being saints? The deposition does not justify Fr. Haley's expulsion.

    But what exactly has happened to Fr. Haley? No one is allowed to know because it's a secret. If you ask the chancery they will tell you they are protecting the priest. But who are they really protecting? It's outrageous! The secret protects the bishop -- just like secrecy protected the priest abusers and the hierarchy who were hiding them and moving them around. The fix is in and it goes on and the injustice of it cries to heaven.

    Think about it, the bishop knew about Fr. Hamilton's and Fr. Erbacher's pornography collections for several years and did nothing even though there are clear links between porn use and child abuse. It was only after the deposition that the bishop finally took action to protect the children in those parishes by dismissing the two porn-addicted priests. As a mother I thank God. I had grandchildren in one of those parishes.

  10. The deposition is not merely a question of prudence; it is also a question of justice. Erbacher and Hamilton in exchange for Haley? Comm on. Thats win/lose not zero sum. We need our Orthodox priests to be "as wise as serpants" else they will be torn from ministry.
    Also, if Fr. Haley is silent it is next to impossible to make an argument while in the dark about specifics regarding what really happened. It is at least possible the Chancery is protecting the priest. We don't know.
    Haley himself could release general info about the progress os his case without saying too much. Why hasn't he? I hear he won't even talk to priests. Canonical silence is not absolute.

  11. To concede, as a poster above does, that "Fr.Haley was the object of SOME injustice..." is to utter the understatement of the year! His bishop has clearly demonstrated in this and in the Fr. Clark case that he has absolutely no sense at all of due process or fair play.

    Apart from the process, the severity of the punishment meted out seems to be aimed at 1) sending a terrorizing signal to the other priests of the diocese or 2) ingratiating the bishop with higher ecclesial officialdom, or both.

  12. Its not wise to judge either Job or the Bishop without more facts. If any party is to blame its the CDF who has dragged its feet. Justice delayed is justice denied. The time clock has been overburdened. It appears that this case has been deepsixed. Another one bites the dust!

  13. Is Fr.James....Fr.Joseph Gerard Haley?

  14. Sorry I didn't see this earlier. The answer is no.